‘18,000 children die of drowning every year’


BSS, Dhaka :
Despite the reduction in infant mortality the number of children's death due to drowning is on the rise. A study by the Center for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB) says that every year 18 thousand children die of such accidents.
A report by the Health Ministry's bulletin of 2013 also says that cases of drowning of children between the ages of 0 to 18 top the chart. In 2012 it was 22.7 percent while in 2011 it was 22.8 percent. The number of children drowning far outstripped the deaths from measles, bronchitis, diphtheria and tuberculosis.  Therefore, a Unicef press note dubbed it as the "silent killer." Child health experts said one of the objectives of the MDGs is reducing infant mortality. But the number of drowning is a huge obstacle to attaining that goal.
People concerned feel that increased parental awareness, capacity building of parents, effective social and family security, lessons in swimming, etc could bring down the mortality rate.
Although these deaths occur throughout the year, its incidence is highest during monsoon. The chance of such deaths increases with the proximity of water bodies to the household.  Children playing in the inflated rivers, canals, ponds, ditches and other water bodies die, frequently.
Reports say that the incidence of such deaths is generally higher in the rural areas compared to urban ones. But in Dhaka and other big cities they are quite significant. Most deaths occur among slum dwelling children who live near water bodies.  Most slums in the city have developed in low areas or near water bodies. These areas are submerged during the monsoon. Slum children bath, swim and play in these water bodies. Children who do not know how to swim follow their peers, who can swim, which are the source of many tragedies.
Apart from this, a lot of children die where settlements are near the river or ocean. During full and blue moon the waters rise. Many children die then. Besides, children also die during tidal surges, because children are the least capable of coping with those adversities. In the tidal surge of 1970 of the 1.2 million people who died, half were children. In the 1991 tidal surge the proportion was the same.
Explaining the reasons, an eminent pediatrician of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital Dr Sufia Khatun said, when they drown water enters their respiratory tracts tubes which creates an inadequacy of oxygen. This affects the oxygen supply in the brain. Besides, because of paucity of oxygen they also faint, quickly.